The gas, bloating, and abdominal pain, along with diarrhea or constipation (or both), that comes with irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) can make life very difficult. Finding a treatment that helps you get relief from your symptoms is a top priority.
At Integrative Medica, our naturopathic physicians, Dr. Jake Schmutz and Dr. Joshua Hersh, take an individualized approach to IBS management. IBS affects everyone differently, and no single treatment works for all. However, some people notice that certain foods trigger their symptoms.
When working with people with IBS, we have them keep a food and symptom diary to help find potential triggers. Though not everyone with IBS has food triggers, there are certain types of foods that seem to cause the most problems.
Here, we want to share some of the foods that most often trigger IBS symptoms and the ones you might want to consider avoiding.
Fructose is a type of sugar found in fruits. It’s also a hard-to-digest carbohydrate that may cause gas, bloating, and digestive problems in people who have a more sensitive gut, like those with IBS.
Apples, mangoes, watermelon, pears, peaches, grapefruits, and apricots are high-fructose fruits that seem to cause the most problems for people with IBS. Instead, snack on fruits lower in fructose, like berries and bananas.
If fructose triggers your IBS symptoms, you also want to avoid foods made with high fructose corn syrup, a sweetener found in soft drinks, juices, packaged treats, tomato sauce, and salad dressing.
Vegetables are considered healthy. But cruciferous veggies like broccoli and cauliflower can trigger IBS systems because they contain raffinose, another hard-to-digest carbohydrate. This tough carbohydrate moves slowly through your digestive tract and ferments in the large intestine, causing gas, bloating, and abdominal pain.
Limiting your intake of these veggies may help control your symptoms. Cooking also makes them easier to digest.
If you have IBS, cow’s milk, soft cheeses, and ice cream may already be on your “avoid” list. These foods are high in lactose, another carbohydrate not everyone has the ability to digest, causing abdominal pain and diarrhea.
Instead of cow’s milk, try dairy alternatives like almond milk or coconut milk.
Sugar alcohols are food additives that add sweetness to food without too many extra calories. This is possible because sugar alcohols are only partially digested. If you get stomach cramps when chewing sugarless gum, it may be the sugar alcohol.
Xylitol, sorbitol, and mannitol are all sugar alcohols you may want to avoid to reduce your IBS symptoms.
Like many of the other foods on this list, beans and peas contain carbohydrates that are hard to digest, triggering gassy IBS symptoms. So, if you have stomach pain after eating hummus, you may want to look for an alternative snack. Baked beans, kidney beans, and split peas may be troublesome too.
Gluten is a protein found in all products made with wheat, rye, or oats — bread, pasta, cereal, and crackers. People with celiac disease need to avoid gluten because it triggers an immune system reaction that damages the gastrointestinal tract.
Some people with IBS notice improvements in their symptoms when they avoid gluten-containing foods. However, gluten doesn’t damage the GI tract in people with IBS like it does with celiac disease.
Bubbles in soda, sparkling water, and other carbonated beverages can make you feel bloated and gassy. Water makes the best choice for hydration if you have IBS.
Many types of foods may trigger your IBS symptoms. We don’t recommend cutting these foods out of your diet until getting help from a health professional for guidance.
Because we take a holistic approach to IBS, medical nutrition is part of our management plan. We can help identify the foods that trigger your symptoms so that you can feel better without feeling deprived.
Call our office or send us a message through our website so we can schedule an appointment for you at our Salt Lake City, Utah office.